California Tri-Tip Chili

It’s been a hectic two past weeks for myself and I’m still struggling to play catch up on sleep, blogging, work, house chores, and getting back into the normal mode of things at home. More importantly, I’m trying to finish watching all my DVR’d shows! Life is so much easier having a DVR because I love to fast-forward through commercials and time is money. I’m so in love with the new show called “Once Upon a Time” from ABC. You need to check it out if you happen to love magic and mystery of fairy tales. Ginnifer Goodwin is in the show and she’s amazing. Just saying.

Plus, I have been trying to get over a cold and cough that I had caught before I had left for my trip to Foodbuzz in SF. I must be a weak SoCal woman – the cold weather hindered me a bit and I even had lost my voice, too. Not fun at all. I am beyond happy that I’m starting to feel back to normal after lots of rest and enjoying a few of my DVR’d shows. I didn’t get a chance to post my tasty chili that I had been enjoying from last week. It’s absolutely perfect for those cold Fall-ish nights and the best medicine to getting over a cold.

This chili is a little bit of sweet and spicy. The butternut squash adds a subtle hint of sweetness when paired with the beefy tri-tip, and it practically melts in your mouth. Top off the chili with a little bit of shredded fontina and chopped green onions and pair it with a skillet sweet cornbread equals the most awesome dinner ever. This chili is no stranger to my blog and was an old post from 2009 that I wanted to update it with a new picture. 

Hearty and delicious and absolutely hands down my most favorite chili ever.

California Tri-Tip Chili

Adapted from Epicurious


3 large dried ancho chiles

3 slices of bacon, diced

2 large onions, chopped (2+ cups)

2 to 3 pound tri-tip roast, cut into 2 to 3 inch cubes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 large garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon ground oregano

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 10-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1 12-ounce bottle dark ale beer *Sam Adams*

1 cup of chicken stock (more if needed)

1/4 cup cilantro stems

1 to 2 bay leaves

2 cups butternut squash, cubed and seeded

Optional garnishments: shredded cheese like fontina or gouda, sour cream, bacon, chopped green onions, additional butternut squash


Warm 2 to 3 cups of water until boiling. Place dried ancho chiles in a medium heat resistant bowl and cover the chiles with enough boiling hot water to let soften. Let soften for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Drain the chiles and reserve at least 2+ cups of the soaking liquid. Place chiles in blender or food processor and add 1 cup of the soaking liquid, garlic cloves, ancho chili powder, cumin seeds, oregano, coriander and cilantro stems. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the butter and saute the bacon until crispy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the bacon and place on a towel-lined plate. Add the chopped onions and cook until tender and translucent. Add the beef chunks and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh black pepper. Stir to coat and let beef and onions cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the beef is no longer pink.

Add the chili puree, fire-roasted tomatoes, chicken stock, bay leaves and beer. Mix to combine and bring to a simmer. Cover and place in oven. Cook for about 2 1/2 hours, until the beef is fork tender. Uncover the chili and add butternut squash cubes and reserved bacon and cook for another 1/2 hour until the squash is tender. Add more of the reserved soaking liquid or chicken stock, depending if you want it spicy or not.

Taste for seasonings, add salt and pepper. Let cool for at least one hour and then scoop a hefty serving in bowls with desired toppings.

Yield: 10 hefty cup servings

Review: My most favorite chili ever with no beans, and it’s not soupy with liquid like your typical bowl of soup. If you want more of a spice to it – add more ancho chili powder or if you want it more soupy – add more soaking liquid or chicken stock to the chili. It’s all to your liking. Ancho chili powder is one of my favorite spice powders to use instead of normal chili powder, I feel like it gives more of a sweet and smoky spice that I’m fond of. You can easily substitute chili powder, too. Also, I find that the chili always tastes best the next day, the flavors fully meld together and since this makes plenty – you can freeze some for another day.

P.S. I’ll post the skillet sweet cornbread recipe that I used tomorrow! It was another tasty recipe that I must share, too.

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